My dearest friend Bea will never forget the evening when she scanned the gardening magazine looking for a new job. In the ad was gardener who has a love for food and will assist the owner of the estate. She looked at me and I said well gardening and cooking… why not indeed? Its been almost 2 years now she has been working on Perch Hill assisting the gardener Sara Raven who writes for Gardeners World and has a show on tv.

But since she has moved there I have left England by then and my short visits are always on a rush that I never had the chance to visit her place down south.
When I was in UK for my sister’s baby it was also my birthday. Bea said I must at least spend few days with her and just get away from London to catch up with our lives. She promised me a birthday treat of cooking, she certainly knows where my weakness lies.

As the train approached Stone Gate Station my heart ached when I saw the rolling hills, the lambs thinking how much indeed I missed the English countryside. Having lived in UK for a year in the country has given me enough time to love the scenic peaceful wet country sides.

Bea made it clear to me there will be no time for tears on that day. She wanted a a great day and show me around the gardens and cook.

As soon we arrived at her cottage she popped a champagne for my birthday and soon after walked around the gardens.

bea’s boots

Beetroots, beans, artichokes, variety of poppies, plants I have forgotten now. I normally have a habit of taking notes but honestly I needed to chill.

When we came back to her cottage, she showed me Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook. There we picked the Broad Bean Salad. We then proceeded to the garden to picked herbs, beans, and other vegetables we needed for our lunch. It was such a joy to be able to harvest the vegetables and cook them in few minutes , knowing they have not gained mileage.

She made me shell the beans while she prepared the artichokes. Then started thinking what to add, knowing Bea, she added a bit of twist to the original recipe. She added smoked bacon!!!!!
Here is the original recipe found at the cookbook.
I normally don’t fancy much broad beans but I did truly enjoy this dish.

    Broad Bean Warm Salad

    For 6
    400 g broad beans, shelled weight
    1 tbsp chopped mint
    2 tbsp chopped chervil
    1/2 tsp chopped tarragon
    2 spring onions finely chopped
    2 tbsp tarragon and white vinegar
    100ml extra virgin oil
    salt and black pepper
    1 tbsp chopped parsley to serve

    Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the broad beans for about 5 mins depending on their size, until tender.
    Drain and immediately cool them down under running water for few seconds to stop them from cooking.
    If beans are large skin them but if they are tiny don’t bother.

    Make a dressing by adding all the herbs except the parsley to the spring onions and vinegar in a bowl and whisking them in all but 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

    Heat the remaining olive oil and toss in the cooked beans just to warm them through before tipping into serving bowl.

    Toss the beans in the dressing.
    Season and serve with parsley.

On this cookbook Sarah Raven included Bea’s Hungaria Cabbage Roll and she appears on the photo on the first page of the book. Bea other than being a good friend of mine has actually encouraged my taste bud to try vegetables I normally dislike.

Sarah Raven runs a garden and cookery school and those you in UK who happens to visit there, my friend Bea is the head gardener of such gorgeous place.

Perch Hill welcomes volunteers: ” are always interested in volunteers to work in the garden at Perch Hill. Come for a day, a week or a month with Bea, our head gardener

Please contact Bea for further details: